- On Capitol Hill
- On Wall Street
- In the Press
- Policy Reform Work
Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
by Jeff Madrick, SCEPA Senior Fellow
A reviewer criticized a section of my book, Age of Greed, because it blamed the end of Regulation Q to a large degree on the banker, Walter Wriston. It was necessary to do away with Reg Q, which restricted the amount commercial banks could pay savers to deposit their money, goes the conventional wisdom, because inflation was driving interest so high, no one would put their money with the banks. Instead, they would put it in unregulated parts of the economy, like new money market funds.
The reviewer treated the end of Reg Q as inevitable; there was no other solution. Indeed, such deregulation was the idea solution to "complex" issues.
Of course, Reg Q could have been managed more flexibly. But if a practical version of it had been in place, institutions like Citicorp, which Wriston built, would never have become so large, influential, and damaging. And perhaps Washington would have been moved to regulate those other areas of the economy that the reviewer supposedly feared. I don't remember him bemoaning a lack of regulation among the shadow banks—oh, perhaps after the crisis, of course, when so many commentators found a new religion and forgot that they practiced the old one.
My point is that America had come to accept deregulated giants as necessary to the running of the economy. Cutting these down to size was beyond the imagination or ingrained thinking of the reviewer—it deviated from conventional wisdom in America.
SCEPA fellow Jeff Madrick appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night to discusses President Obama's proposed new economic plan. Obama's plan aims to raise taxes on the U.S.'s millionaires and billionaires and refocus efforts on the jobless and poor. Madrick points out "to get jobs we really need those spending programs. We need some infrastructure programs. We need aid — aid to state and local governments. Some of those tax cuts in the middle will also help."
Grim unemployment numbers and recent reports of increasing poverty rates add to the sense of urgency President Obama has displayed in recent days. Madrick argues "We've got a serious crisis here. Are we going to say we can't tax the rich who have done outrageously well, as I said, in order to start turning that around? Are we going to balance the budget on the back of all these people who have done poorly now for ten — and I would argue, actually, for a generation?"
Appearing with former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer on Countdown with Keith Olbermann after President Obama's jobs speech to joint session of Congress, SCEPA Fellow Jeff Madrick weighed in on proposed tax credits for raising wages.
Madrick warned that the real problem facing the economy is not corporate profits - which are more than healthy - but lack of spending by consumers. He also commented on the proposed $450 billion dollars in spending discussed by the President, "$450 billion dollars is a big stimulus program. The problem is, how much pop do we get for that $450 billion dollar stimulus? How much pop do we get for tax cuts and tax credits? My big gripe with Republicans is they want to give tax cuts and we don't get a pop. We get lots of privilege, lots of cash in the bank for people who don't need any more cash and don't want to spend it. The pop has to be investment, it has to be make work programs. What is government for but to make jobs?"